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Thursday 24 September 2020

Northern Ireland ministers must not “put partisan interests ahead of effective government”

Nigel Stripe/Shutterstock.com

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman has described it as “extraordinary” and “astonishing” that the First and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland have failed to appoint a new head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service.

Speaking to William Crawley on BBC Radio Ulster’s Talkback (listen from 16:00), Penman said that it was "irresponsible of the political leadership in Northern Ireland” to have failed to make an appointment ten months after the previous incumbent, David Sterling, announced his intention retire. Penman argued that the First Minister and Deputy First Minister needed to urgently set out publicly why they had made this decision and what their plan is to resolve the situation, as “it is the people of Northern Ireland who will potentially pay a price for this.”

FDA National Officer for Northern Ireland, Allan Sampson added: “This is very disappointing news which leaves the Northern Ireland Civil Service in a state of uncertainty at a time of crisis. The service is crucial to the delivery of vital public services, and it is therefore deeply concerning that ministers would put themselves, civil servants and the people of Northern Ireland in this position in the middle of a pandemic.
Sampson argued that it was essential that ministers provide the Northern Ireland Civil Service with the leadership it needs at such a critical time, adding that it was “absolutely vital that we protect the impartiality of our civil service, and politicians must ensure they do not to put partisan interests ahead of effective government and public need.”

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